Can Non-Muslim Minorities Build Places of Worship?

27 August, 2020
Q I read somewhere that Islam does not recognize the rights of non-Muslim minorities, so they cannot build their houses of worship. It this true?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. 

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.


In this fatwa:

1- Prophet Muhammad made pacts and pledges with the Christians stating that nothing of their rights, major or minor, will be taken away from them.

2- Islam states that Muslims should not inflict harm on non-Muslim minorities as individuals or a community in their worship or institutions.

3- Non-Muslim minorities have been building their houses of worship for centuries in various countries where Islam spread and ruled.


In responding to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:

Tolerance towards Non-Muslims

Historically, Muslims had an excellent record of being pioneers of pluralism and tolerance of minorities. It is not due to political expedience. Instead, it is based on one of the fundamental Quranic principles guaranteeing freedom of conscience.

Freedom of conscience is a principle that the Quran enshrines. Furthermore, the Quran also states clearly: “There shall be no compulsion in religion.” (Al-Baqarah 2:256)

Furthermore, the Quran also states that one of the stated objectives of sanctioning war is to protect the places of worship.  Allah says; {Were it not for God’s repelling people, some by means of others, monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, wherein God’s Name is mentioned much, would have been destroyed. And God will surely help those who help Him—truly God is Strong, Mighty.} (Al-Hajj 22: 40)

Pacts and Pledges with Non-Muslims

That is why the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) made pacts and pledges with the Christians. These pledges stated that nothing of their rights, major or minor, will be taken away from them. No harm would be inflicted on them as individuals or a community in their worship or institutions.

How can anyone accuse Islam of being opposed to the minorities establishing their places of worship? They have been doing these for centuries in various countries where Islam spread and ruled.

Muslims Helped the Jews from Spain

📚 Read Also: Are Muslims Allowed to Cooperate with Non-Muslims?

There is no shortage of instances of the Jews and other religious minorities who were oppressed given protection by Muslim rulers. After all, it is a well-known fact that the Ottoman rulers sent a ship to bring the Jews from Spain who were expelled by the Christians from Spain. Also, the kind treatment meted out by Saladin to the Jews or other Christian denominations is legendary.

Indeed, there were some exceptions to the above; one cannot blame it on Islam. It was due to human failings, but while saying we can never justify them for the offense is an offense no matter who commits it.

Almighty Allah knows best.